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DEMON LOVER DIARY (1980).

In the Fall of 1975, cameraman Jeff Kreines was hired to shoot a silly little horror romp called DEMON LOVER in the middle of Michigan, and his female pal Joel DeMott joined him on the trip, documenting this adventure into no-budget filmmaking with her own handy camera. Her ragged footage was later lashed together into this legendary documentary, which has finally been snuck onto video. The father of modern hits such as AMERICAN MOVIE, it's an insightful, funny and scary peek into the making of an indie fright flick and its delusional, self-taught filmmakers. From the moment Kreines arrives, his bosses (factory-workers-turned-auteurs Don Jackson and Jerry Younkins) are pissed off. The pair are 98% ego and 2% talent, and while they boast to local reporters that they've spent two years planning this film, their production is about as tightly formed as a beer shit. Kreines doesn't make any friends by pointing out their "consistent stupidity," even as DeMott captures it all on-camera. Jackson continually wants to run Kreine's personal camera, even though he knows jack about cinematography. The ditzy actresses can't remember their lines. DeMott and Kreines have to room with Don's mom, and due to the old gal's religious beliefs, they can't mention that her son is making a horror movie. Meanwhile, dorky Younkins (and his waist-length hair) is starring as the demonic lead and constantly whines that their masterpiece "looks like shit." Kreines and sound man Mark Rance have honest-to-goodness technical skills, and for a while the trio can only laugh about this absurd gig, as Rance hits on one of the flick's cuter white-trash actresses. Ms. DeMott's occasional voice-over connects the rough footage, with grim info about the co-directors (the production was initially financed with $8,000 of insurance money, after Younkins conveniently cut off his finger on the job; Jackson mortgaged everything his family owns, in hopes of making a fortune), as well as her own growing frustrations. But the production takes a nasty turn when the crew visits Ted Nugent's home(!) and borrows real guns and ammo for a scene. When Kreines draws up a contract, in hopes of getting paid what he was promised (god forbid!), tempers erupt and the trio flee Michigan, fearful of heavily-armed fanboys seeking retribution. Although DeMott's camera is always running, these filmmakers don't seem too worried about looking like amateurish nerds in the middle of hissy fits; probably because they never imagined that this footage would someday be a movie that's a hundred times more entertaining than DEMON LOVER -- which, hard to believe, was actually finished and (barely) released. Even more amazing, despite his proven lack of talent, Don Jackson continued directing, from highlights like HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN to low points such as LINGERIE KICKBOXER and ROLLERGATOR.

© 2001 by Steven Puchalski.